GALVESTON, Texas (Legal Newsline) - An employee filed a class action lawsuit against Maritime Sanitation Inc. for misrepresenting him as an independent contractor and violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.




The defendants have hired approximately 25 employees as rig representatives in Kemah, Texas, since August 2011 to perform consulting work on offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a complaint filed Nov. 3 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.








Onward LLC and Autrey P. McVicker II were also named as defendants in the suit.




Marcus Austin claims he was misclassified as an independent contractor for four months from Aug. 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2011.




The defendants did not have any written independent contractor agreements with the plaintiff or any other similarly situated misclassified contractors, according to the suit.




"Defendants hired, trained, directed and supervised the daily work of plaintiff and the other similarly situated misclassified contractors working on offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico for defendants' customers," the complaint states.




Austin claims the plaintiff and the other class members were required by the defendants to comply with instructions about when, where and how their work was to be done.




The defendants required the plaintiff and other class members to attend an onshore training course to enable them to perform their job in a particular method and manner, according to the suit.




"The services provided by plaintiff and the other similarly situated misclassified contractors were integrated into defendants' business operations," the complaint states.




Austin claims all services he and class members provided for the defendants were required by the defendants to be performed by them personally.




The plaintiff and the class members did not have the capability or authority to hire, supervise or pay assistants to help them perform the services that they were being paid to perform, according to the suit.




Austin claims he and class members were prohibited from setting their own offshore work schedule.




The plaintiff and the class members were required by the defendants to devote their full time to their job at the defendants’ customer’s offshore drilling rigs and were prohibited from performing any other work, according to the suit.




"Defendants required plaintiff and the other similarly situated misclassified contractors to provide daily reports of their activity and performance," the complaint states. "Defendants created and provided to plaintiff and the other similarly situated misclassified contractors an 'invoice' to complete for any work performed."




Austin claims the plaintiff and class members had no opportunity to realize either a profit or a loss, other than their non-guaranteed wages.




The defendants prohibited the plaintiff and the class members from working for other vendors at the same time, according to the suit.




"Plaintiff and the other similarly situated misclassified contractors did not make their services available to the general public," the complaint states. "Plaintiff and the other similarly situated misclassified contractors were subject to termination for reasons other than nonperformance of contract specifications."




Austin claims he and class members were able to terminate their relationship with the defendants without incurring liability for failure to complete a job.




Austin and class members were, therefore, employees of the defendants, and not independent contractors, according to the suit.




On Jan. 1, 2012, the defendants re-classified the plaintiff and class members as W-2 employees and, upon information and belief, this change was made because of a potential investigation or proceeding by the IRS, according to the suit.




Austin claims misclassifying employees violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and caused him and class members damages.




Austin is seeking class certification and compensatory damages. He is being represented by Michael A. Starzyk, Stephen R. Ricks, April L. Walter and Megan M. Mitchell of Starzyk & Associates PC.




U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas case number: 3:14-cv-00350




From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at classactions@legalnewsline.com.


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